Considering using Shopify to build your online store? I wrote this honest, detailed Shopify review to help you decide if it’s best for your business. I’ll go over the key pros and cons, and discuss the best alternatives to Shopify at the very end.
✅ Shopify is easy to use and set-up.
✅ Large selection of storefront themes.
✅ No cap on sales or revenue.
✅ Sell unlimited products.
✅ Extensive app store.
✅ Over five million stores use Shopify.
✅ Solid support and resources.
✅ 100+ integrated payment gateways.
✅ Sell on multiple channels.
✅ Strong Point of Sale (POS) system.
What Is Shopify?
The answer is simple. Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. When it comes to Shopify, it’s just another name for a web application that lets you create your own online store.
It provides you with a selection of themes, payment processors, marketing tools, and the option to sell both physical and digital products.
To put things in perspective, Shopify has all of the features needed to build a store and begin selling online.
The platform was made to work extremely well for beginners. However, it also caters to developers because it provides access to CSS, HTML and Shopify’s in-house template language labeled as “Liquid.”
How Does Shopify Work?
Shopify is a “hosted” ecommerce platform, meaning that it runs on its own servers, and you don’t have to buy separate web hosting or install any software to use it. You will create and manage your store using a web browser.
As mentioned above, Shopify gives you all of the key things you’ll need to build and market an online store right “out of the box” (e.g. themes, payment processors, email marketing, blog, checkout, etc.).
Moreover, you have an array of options for a more extensive customization of your store via custom code or the addition of third party apps.
To be clear, you don’t own a copy of Shopify, but instead, you will pay a monthly fee to use it.
Shopify Plans & Pricing
Shopify is very transparent about their plans and pricing. At the time of writing this Shopify review, there are a total of five different plans – Starter, Basic, Shopify, Advanced and Shopify Plus (Enterprise-level plan).
Here’s a simple breakdown of each plan:
- Starter: $5/month (access to Shopify checkout only).
- Basic: $39/month, 2 staff accounts, basic reporting.
- Shopify: $105/month, 5 staff accounts, professional reporting.
- Advanced: $399/month, 15 staff accounts, custom reporting tools.
- Shopify Plus: Starting at $2,000 per month for advanced, enterprise-level features.
Significant discounts are available when paying your Shopify bill upfront for the entire year. A massive 25% discount would apply. Unfortunately, the Starter plan is excluded from this discount.
Moreover, Shopify also offers a short 3-day free trial, which you could use to play around with the platform.
Keep in mind that Shopify charges transaction fees (unless you use Shopify Payments) which can be as high as 2% depending on the plan you’re on.
✅ Shopify Pros
These are the key pros when using Shopify to build a fully functional online store:
1. Shopify Is Easy To Use
The main reason Shopify is the builder behind millions of online stores is because of its’ simplicity. The interface is clean and not filled with advertisements or junk that you’ll never need or use. Their interface has all the important administrative tasks readily available and easily accessible.
With Shopify, you don’t have to go through a rigorous process to build, customize and launch your business online. Shopify uses a drag-and-drop editor, which will allow you to quickly and easily add content and tweak your store without breaking a sweat or learning code.
So whether you want to change the overall design of the store, add a new payment processing service or launch your first e-mail marketing campaign, you’ll be able to do just that right from the main dashboard.
2. Large Selection Of Storefront Themes
Shopify has 106 clean and responsive themes (11 free and 95 premium) in various industries like arts and crafts, clothing, electronics, health and beauty, jewelry, and toys and games. Most of the themes are available in multiple color presets or variations.
All Shopify themes can be edited using a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor and without touching any code.
Moreover, all Shopify themes are:
- Clean, responsive, and optimized for ecommerce.
- Packed with built-in features (e.g. discounts, recommended products, etc.).
- Easily added to your store with a click of your mouse.
- Downloadable for offline or developer customization.
- Automatic, free theme updates.
Alternatively, you can edit every theme using using liquid markup language. You’ll have to go down this route for any advanced store editing or customization.
As for the premium themes, the price is anywhere from $100 to $350 per theme.
If you don’t like any of the available themes, you can always have a developer design a custom one for you.
3. No Cap On Sales
Unlike their competitor BigCommerce that has a cap on annual revenue, Shopify does not. Shopify knows the importance of allowing a business to grow freely without imposing additional fees.
All Shopify plans allow you to make an infinite amount of sales and revenue. There are no additional fees for processing more payments through your store.
There are transaction fees (I’ll discuss this under the cons section) though if you don’t use their payment processing service.
4. Sell Unlimited Products
This is now the norm for most hosted ecommerce platforms. However, all Shopify’s plans give to the ability to sell unlimited products. The only exception to this is their Starter plan, which is only good for adding a “buy button” to an existing website or social media.
So whether you have a small store with 20 products or a large store with 50,000 products, you will have the same monthly bill. This applies to both physical or digital products.
5. Extensive App Store
Although Shopify relies heavily on the app store (I’ll discuss this under the cons section), it’s beneficial to have an app store that you can use to add more functionality to your online store.
To put this in perspective, there are over 7,000 free and premium third party apps in the Shopify App Store. You can use the app store to integrate social media, add e-mail marketing, enable product reviews, automate advertising, recover lost sales, and source products to sell.
So if there’s a feature, function or add-on that you want to add to your store, chances are, you’ll find it in their app store. To take this further, there are thousands of Shopify developers that you can reach out to for custom designs and apps.
You do have to be careful with apps as most of them have a monthly fee, so you don’t want to hike up your monthly Shopify bill.
6. Over Five Million Stores Use Shopify
Since its launch back in 2006, Shopify is the platform of choice for over five million online stores worldwide. Out of those stores, about 70% are based in the United States.
Shopify’s stores have processed trillions of dollars in combined payments thus far. And these numbers will just grow in the coming years.
These statistics prove one thing: Shopify works. No wonder Shopify has left competitors like BigCommerce in the dust.
7. Solid Support & Resources
Shopify is easy to use right from the get-go. It almost feels like someone is holding your hand throughout the entire setup and launch process.
For starters, Shopify offers 24/7 email and English live chat support on all paid Shopify plans. The average response time for their e-mail support is 24-48 hours whereas live chat is several minutes to a couple of hours.
Shopify also has an extensive self-help resource section. This is filled with guides, podcasts, business courses, and ecommerce research.
Moreover, there’s a Shopify Community section that you can use to talk about anything pertaining to Shopify and ecommerce. This is a nice little feature because you have the option to interact with other Shopify merchants and partners.
Lastly, there’s a free tools section that includes things like a logo and slogan maker, pay stub generator, profit margin calculator, and business card maker. This is something you probably will not find elsewhere. It goes back to what I said about having your hand held throughout the entire process. It’s like getting the entire package.
8. 100+ Payment Gateways
Although Shopify pushes you to use Shopify Payments, which is their in-house payment processing service. In doing so, Shopify waives transaction fees for you.
Moreover, Shopify supports over 100 other third-party payment providers for regions and countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, North America, and Oceania. Not all providers are going to be available worldwide and some are specific to certain regions only.
The more popular payment processing services that are available include:
- Shopify Payments
- Amazon Pay
- Quickbooks Payments
Regardless of where you live, you’re going to need to use a payment processing service to accept payments online. Shopify makes the integration process very simple.
9. Sell On Multiple Channels
Shopify gives you the option to promote and sell your products on multiple sales channels including Google, eBay, Walmart, YouTube Shopping, Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram.
All of this is done from the Shopify dashboard, where you’ll be able to track orders and manage inventory.
Selling on these channels is one way to reach new customers and boost sales. And that’s always a plus.
10. Strong Point Of Sale (POS)
If you sell products in person, you’ll find that Shopify has an incredibly strong point of sale system that’ll give you capabilities to accept payments.
Shopify will send you all the hardware needed to integrate this system in your shop or any mobile or tablet device.
While the basic version will be good enough for smaller shop, you’ll need the pro add-on version to do things like:
- Add unlimited number of store staff.
- The option to buy online and pick up in store.
- Accept returns and exchanges in store.
- Print custom purchase receipts.
- Define staff roles and permissions.
- Attribute sales to particular staff members (for commission or performance-analysis purposes).
Shopify POS Lite (basic version) is included with all Shopify plans.
Shopify POS Pro (advanced version) costs $89 per month for each store location. However, Shopify POS Pro is included with the Shopify Plus plan.
Try Shopify For Free
Give Shopify free for three full days. No credit card required. You’ve got nothing to lose.
❌ Shopify Cons
These are the cons or disadvantages of using Shopify to build an online store:
1. Limited Features
Shopify’s lower tier plans limit features and force you to upgrade to a more expensive plan or rely on the app store – which is also a con of its own.
For example, the Basic plan ($29/month) restricts the usage of advanced reports, ecommerce automations, calculated shipping rates, and duties and import taxes.
While these limitations are not going to be a problem for all stores, they’re going to be deal breakers for mostly larger stores that need to utilize things like advanced reporting and ecommerce automation.
Moreover, international shops will more than likely need the capabilities to set up duties and import taxes.
Fortunately, upgrading to the next plan or utilizing the app store will fix most of these road blocks.
2. Relies Heavily On App Store
Although Shopify is a versatile platform, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles that BigCommerce does. Thus, Shopify relies heavily on the app store if you find yourself looking to add more features or functionality.
How is this a problem?
Well, only a small number of apps are actually free.
More than half the apps have a one-time charge or a recurring monthly fee. Regardless, it factors into the actual cost of Shopify.
Depending on the apps and features you add and pay for, Shopify may no longer be the best and most affordable platform. If this is a problem you run into at some point, BigCommerce may be a cheaper alternative due to their extensive “out-of-box” features.
Bottom line, a large ecommerce app store is good to have but it could also be a costly expense down the road.
3. Custom Template Language “Liquid”
Liquid is a custom template language created by Shopify. It uses Liquid tags, filters, and objects to build Shopify themes, and render storefront functionality.
It’s different from traditional HTML and CSS. So, naturally there’s a learning curve when using Liquid.
First, a new business needs plenty of attention and upkeep to succeed. Instead of focusing on your business, you’re going to have to shift some attention to learning how to use Liquid if you plan on making any advanced changes to the store design.
Next, you’re going to spend more time looking for a developer that works with Liquid. Some may even be more expensive than your traditional developers.
Finally, any design you come up with is going to be tied to Shopify. So, if you ever decide to change to a different platform, you’re going to leave your design behind as most other platforms utilize traditional coding – HTML and CSS.
4. Transaction Fees
The final Shopify con and arguably the one that packs the biggest punch is those pesky transaction fees.
If you’re using Shopify Payments, you don’t have to worry about transaction fees as Shopify waives them for you. But, you will be tied to Shopify Payments being the only payment method you accept on your store.
However, if you plan on using an external payment processing service like PayPal, Amazon Pay, or Authorize.net, you’ll pay transactions fees. These fees are vary plan by plan.
Here are the transaction fees associated with each plan if you do the use Shopify Payments:
- Basic: 2%
- Shopify: 1%
- Advanced: 0.5%
For example, pretend that you use Paypal to process $250,000 in payments on your store. Shopify would charge you $5,000 in additional fees for using an external payment processing service (Paypal in this example). This doesn’t include fees that Paypal will also charge you.
Keep in mind that those are the fees that Shopify would charge for using an external payment processing service. You would still pay fees associated with each payment processing service you use (e.g. Paypal fees). This is something you’ll pay regardless of which online store builder you use.
Shopify Review Conclusion
Shopify is by far not a perfect platform. It has flaws and always will.
However, when you factor everything in, Shopify is the best ecommerce platform on the market. The simplicity and ease of setup is what attracts millions of business owners to Shopify.
Over 5 million stores use Shopify for a reason. The rave Shopify reviews are there for a reason. The reasoning behind all of this: Shopify works…
Bottom line: If you’re in the market for a platform to build your next online store, Shopify is a platform that you should look at first. Shopify has its’ hiccups and may not be the best fit for all, but it should at least be on your list of platforms to try before making your final decision.
Try Shopify for free (3-day free trial, no credit card needed).
No transaction fees | Up to 600 variants | HTML & CSS theme editing | Extensive features
Big selection of themes | Strong POS system | Clean interface | $26 per month
No transaction fees | Advanced features | Unlimited product variants | Free plan available
Shopify Review: FAQS
1. Is Shopify a reputable company?
Shopify is the platform of choice for over 5 million online stores. So, it’s safe to say that Shopify is a reputable company with an excellent service.
2. Can beginners use Shopify?
Yes – Shopify was designed to be friendly for beginners and experts alike.
3. Is Shopify really cheap?
Although Shopify is affordable, I don’t think it’s cheap. Especially if you factor in transaction fees and add-ons from the app store.
4. Is it worth getting into Shopify?
That’s totally up to the type of products you are selling. Shopify or any other platform you use will not interfere with your success but it will also not put you on the top without you making an effort. It comes down to your products, marketing, pricing, and overall service.
5. Who is Shopify’s biggest competitor?
BigCommerce is Shopify’s biggest competitor.
6. Do a lot of people use Shopify?
Yes – over five million stores are built using Shopify. It almost feels as Shopify blew up overnight. And, it doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon.